Norton High Football Team Holds on to Beat Bellingham
The Norton High football team defeated Bellingham, 14-13, Thanksgiving Day in Bellingham.
It will definitely be a Thanksgiving Day game both Norton and Bellingham High football teams will remember for years to come.
Not only was Bellingham standout Ricky Santos honored at halftime with his number being retired, but the Hawks took to playing like their assistant coach.
Trailing 14-0 to Norton early in the fourth quarter, Bellingham made a game of this 11th annual Thanksgiving Day extravaganza, but failed on the 2-point conversion that would have given them the win. Norton escaped with a 14-13 Tri-Valley league win.
“I was going for the win for these kids the whole way. I knew when we scored, I could see it in their eyes that they wanted to go for it and I did too,” Bellingham head coach Dan Maclean said. “I thought that we had it, but there was a little confusion and we threw it a little too fast. I’m so proud of these kids.”
Originally it looked as though the Lancers were going to have their way with the Bellingham defensive line taking the opening kick-off and moving the ball 79 yards on 10 plays before reaching the end zone. Quarterback Mike Ready (5-7 for 96 yards) hit Joe Colley, who accounted for all 14 Lancer points), with a 16-yard touchdown pass. The PAT failed as Norton headed back up the field with a 6-0 lead.
The rest of the first half was uneventful as both defenses kept the opposing offenses at bay. Just prior to the half Norton’s Andrew Nartowicz took a Bellingham punt 89-yards to the house and what looked to be a convincing Norton lead, unfortunately it was nullified for a block in the back. The teams headed into the locker rooms with the visitors up 6-0.
“The whole plan (today) was to cut down on the mistakes and we had a lot of penalties, so that definitely hurt us,” Norton head coach Ted Currle said. “Bellingham, defensively, was just fantastic. Out of our 11 games they shut us down more than anybody did all year.”
Norton out performed Bellingham in the first half with 96 offensive yards, while Bellingham was only able to pick up 65 yards, but the second half took a full 180 turn in favor of the Hawks. Bellingham grinded out 188 offensive yards (141 through the air and 47 on the ground) to Norton’s 79 yards in the second half.
After a 30-yard pass to Colley from Ready, Norton had the ball first and goal at the Bellingham 1. Colley found the end zone on the very next play, turning the corner on the left hand side to scamper in for the 2-point conversion giving the Lancers a 14-0 lead early into the fourth quarter.
“After we missed the first one (PAT) we had decided that if we scored again we were going for the two,” the Norton coach said. “We had that play in our arsenal just in case and it worked out. Those were two big points.”
Down by two scores and less than a quarter to play on the final game of the 2012 season Bellingham got things going. The Hawks moved 60 yards on nine plays with the three biggest plays of the drive, coming off the arm of Kevin McTomney.
One of the Bellingham quarterbacks, McTomney would connect with the other quarterback Austin Nunn on plays of 20, 14 and 30 yards. The last hook-up between the two was for Bellingham’s first touchdown on the day cutting into the Norton lead to 14-7.
Bellingham’s defense held the Lancers to a three and out and got the ball back with 3:52 remaining on the clock. Once again it was the passing of both McTomney and Nunn to move the ball down the field into Norton territory, but it was the legs of Adam Braza who had the biggest play on the drive.
The Bellingham back rumbled the final 15-yards of the 70 yard drive leaving the hometown fans standing and cheering as the Hawks were within one from tying the game. Bellingham went for the win instead of the tie and the pass fell incomplete.
“(In the second half), we were finally able to get the concept we wanted – that hitch on the outside,” Maclean said. “Austin and Kevin did a phenomenal job to get us into that position.”
Prior to the pass falling incomplete the team had been hit with an offside that moved them back an additional five yards from the end zone. Maclean thought the penalty gave the Hawks a little more room, but Currle thought the play was in the Lancers favor.
“The off sides during the 2-point conversion was huge,” the Norton coach said. “It allowed us to change up our defense and they over threw the receiver by about a foot.”
Norton finished the year 6-5 (3-1 in the TVL), while Bellingham fell to 3-8 (1-3).
Colley grabbed the Norton offensive player of the game, while teammate James Keating took home defensive honors. For Bellingham, Ryan Wilson was the defensive player of the game and Nunn was awarded the offensive award.